An act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion - that is one dictionary definition of duty. Since at different times of my life I have lived in different places, worked with different people, under different circumstances my duties are ever changing and different from those of others whether in similar circumstances or not. As a mother of infants my duties were very different from my present duties as a mother of adults. I am still the same person and my boys are the same too but the circumstances of our lives have changed and so have my duties towards them. So with all phases and circumstances of my life.
I have duties towards myself that have changed over the years too. As a child education was my chief duty. To gain knowledge from parents, teachers, books, other people, and circumstances around me. During that same time I had a duty towards my parents, my family, my friends, my school, my temple and so on. It was only as an adult that I realized that my duties were not only towards what was considered as 'mine.' These duties that I perform towards 'my' people, 'my' things and 'my' life have an impact on the much larger environment that I belong to.
When I perform my duties within a moment without thinking of the end result that work becomes free from stress. It is not about what the end product will be it is more about doing the job as well as I can. When I time myself for a job or have a to-do-list of things for the day I am compromising the quality of my work. At this moment I am writing and all I am doing is writing. The moment my thought moves away from my writing to other functions that I know I must perform my writing is compromised. Performing my duties is a function of my role as a person, devotee, wife, mother, homemaker, writer, and so many different positions I hold in life. Role playing is not the function of my life. My function is to be. Staying focused on this moment every moment is the only way to be without playing any role. When I remain present within a moment the mind is focused on the only task at hand.
Not to be attached to the fruits of actions is difficult but to remain focused only on this moment is easier and automatically takes my mind away from the fruits. Just as with a child, saying 'No' is not enough so also with the mind - telling it not to think about a future moment is not enough. I must bring my mind to the present moment as if I am distracting a truant child who is throwing a tantrum. My duties are a function of my ego - that part of me that is necessary for me to exist in this physical form. To be an observer of the physical realm is the function of my spirit and when I am true to my spirit my duties become a chain of moments that are free of stress and pain. Going from a flurry of activity to absolute inner silence becomes possible.
The past exists only in my memories and the future is a figment of my imagination - both my memories and my imagination are my mind playing with itself. Time is being measured by my mind using these two toys it never tires of. I can become an observer of memories and imagination and let my mind play its games without shaking my stable foundation only if I watch it like I am watching a movie. I know what is happening on the screen is not real - but I laugh and I cry as the story unfolds and then when the screen is blank I walk out having enjoyed the time. It is futile to get attached to the story on the screen.
I recognize that to enjoy work I must understand that my duties include service that are for the betterment of myself and society at large but my focus must remain on the work at hand. Good and bad right and wrong are dependent on many variables. There is no absolute good or absolute wrong. Just as to be is my only purpose, to do is my only function. The less I am involved in worldly affairs the less turbulence is created in the mind. Staying at peace with the moment requires that the environment I keep myself in be peaceful. Repeating a sad story or listening to one keeps the mind in the outward direction - I must draw it away from the outside and focus it on Truth. To see 'God' in everyone requires that I recognize the God in me first. This God is a compassionate, loving, forgiving Entity. One who is the observer until the ego chooses to begin to observe and emulate It. Then It becomes an active participant in attaining the unconditional love I must feel for myself and others. From this love comes compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and ultimately Peace. When many such peaceful moments are linked life itself is Peace.
Performing my duties towards myself and others, remaining unattached, staying away from the public eye, and being compassionate, forgiving, and accepting of every event and of everyone is essential for me and only I can bring this shift towards my inner self. I must be ever watchful of my ego and use it as a tool to get there. It is a struggle - the result invariably leads to being misunderstood and misjudged but that is a price I am more than willing to pay. My path is my own and I must tread on it willing to accept the consequences of it - after all the results of any action are immaterial if I am following the prescribed path.